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Author Topic: Building Workbench  (Read 2053 times)

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yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Building Workbench
« on: January 05, 2019, 04:38:23 am »
Over the break I am finally building myself a proper workbench. I have been working off a $100 Harbor Freight "workbench" with stick legs and 2 folding tables. Try using a #7 plane on those... This is the first step towards getting my shop setup now that I know I will be in my current residence for the foreseeable future.

I have read about 4 books about workbenches with my favorite being "The Workbench Design Book - The Art & Philosophy of Building Better Benches" by Christopher Schwarz. He goes pretty in depth on ancient designs as well as some modernization for modern tools. I really like his philosophy: they have been using the same workbench designs for thousands of years for a good reason - don't reinvent the wheel unless you have a very good reason or specific usage. He is also very practical with his advice on the actual construction which mostly agrees with my experience with benches.

Anyway, I am building a Roubo bench out of Southern Yellow Pine. No, it's not hardwood and yes, it will be fine. Without getting too deep into the debate, SYP is very cheap and plentiful around here, is decently hard, has a good weight, and all the books recommend it. I can always put a hardwood layer on top later if I want.

I picked through the construction grade stuff at Home Depot and brought home 18 2"x10"x8' and 3 2"x10"x12' for $130. The good thing about the 10" (and 12") boards is that they are mostly flat sawn boards which you can rip in half for nice quarter sawn boards. Watch out for pith. I would later learn I was not picky enough (or just unlucky) and had to replace 3 of the 8 footers ($18) due to them having too much internal stress. Some of the boards are also wet with an upwards of 17%MC according to my cheap $40 moisture sensor. One of the boards was soaked at over 35%MC! I passed on that one too. They can also be pretty out-of-square. Combine that with internal stress and expect to mill off 1-2" if you need the full length. It's construction grade, you get what you pay for.
:dunno

Still in the process of milling it all down.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2019, 10:21:39 am by yo1dog »

drewjbx

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Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2019, 11:07:27 am »
Garage full of sawdust... getting work done. awesome!
Heavy duty work bench is a must!




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yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2019, 11:47:01 am »
Yea this project quickly overwhelmed my shop vac I was coasting on. I have since purchased this portable 1hp dust collector: https://www.woodcraft.com/products/rikon-portable-dust-collector-with-wall-mount

Works well enough. The large shavings from the jointer will clog it if I take off too much too quickly. Regardless, it's way better than the shop vac and is a good temporary solution before I get my real dust collection system in place.

(BTW I don't use the funnel it came with. I attach it directly to the jointer and table saw dust port.)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 11:49:06 am by yo1dog »

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2019, 11:59:47 am »
Here's the plan for my 3 garage shop (only using 2 spots so the wife can park her car). I already own all the tools. They just need a proper home!

drewjbx

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Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2019, 05:16:05 pm »
Nice layout and well equipped... that table saw have router as well? Would like to get 4x8 CNC table... one day.



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yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2019, 03:07:35 pm »
Yea the router table is built into the end of the table saw. I can also switch the router out for an oscillating spindle sander. Similar to this: http://toolmonger.com/2007/08/27/rocklers-router-table-insert-for-porter-cable%E2%80%99s-spindle-sander/

A full sheet CNC would be awesome.

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2019, 03:07:58 pm »
Some progress pics

bperkins01

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Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2019, 11:40:48 pm »
Looks overdue!  With the nice Powermatic Tablesaw and Jointer..  You need a real bench!
My Arcade Build and other projects here:
https://bperkins.wordpress.com/

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2019, 12:38:12 am »
It absolutely is. Part of the reason is because until recently I was unsure of how long I was going to be in my current house and I didn't want to build a huge heavy bench if I was moving soon. Another reason was that I get little shop time these days and I was preferring to use that time on projects instead. But, this has been a fun project!

bperkins01

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Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2019, 09:59:35 am »
Shop furniture is reward to build..  You'll find more things to do soon!
My Arcade Build and other projects here:
https://bperkins.wordpress.com/

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2019, 08:33:07 pm »
After a busy year, I finally have the time and weather to resume working on the bench.

The top is made from 24 laminated ~1.25x4" boards. I first made 6 beams by gluing up 4 boards each. I glued and jointed the beams back in January and then they sat untouched for most of the year. I was curious how much the cheap builder's grade SYP with somewhat high moisture content (compared to the good kiln dried stuff) would move. Turns out not much when glued up. They were defiantly twisted and out of square, but I think the largest offset was ~1/4". I was careful to arrange the boards with opposing internal stress. Some of the unglued/unused boards warped substantially.

I re-jointed the 6 beams, glued up 3 beams each into the two halves, then glued the two halves into the final top. I flattened the bottom using a sled and a router. This method worked really well and got it dead flat (less than 1 card thickness at lowest point). I wasn't careful enough on my first attempt and quickly realized I was cutting too deep and taking off more material than I wanted. You can see this mistake in the pictures bellow. I'll flatten the top the same way once I get in on legs.

Next up is the legs. They are made from laminating 5 ~1.25x4" boards. They are all glued up and ready for jointing.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 09:10:14 pm by yo1dog »

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2019, 08:36:07 pm »
More pics.

wp34

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Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2019, 07:22:04 am »
This is a cool project. I like the care you took in laying out and glueing the planks.

How long did it take you to run the sled over the bottom?

By the way Pokemon cards are notoriously known for being out of level.  ;D

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2019, 10:20:39 am »
By the way Pokemon cards are notoriously known for being out of level.  ;D

Pretty sure Pokemon cards are still "on the level". ;)

I don't remember where I saw that playing card trick, but it's a good one. Standard playing cards are usually ~1/64" thick so you can try shoving some cards under various points of the level to quickly gauge how far off you are.


How long did it take you to run the sled over the bottom?

I probably spent 30 minutes setting up the guide rails (the second time) and an hour with the router. May have been less than that but felt long. I used a 3/4" bit. Some people use large 2" surfacing/bottom cleaning bits which I'm sure is faster. But that seemed like too much bit for my hand held 12amp router even with the light (max 1/8" deep) passes I was making. Plus Woodcraft wanted $80 for it, though it was a nice Whiteside bit. Also, the wider the bit the more slight offsets are magnified resulting in a deeper "wave" pattern requiring more sanding/scraping.

You can buy/build jigs but I just jointed some 2x4 and clamped it to the side of the benchtop with some scrap wood in between as a spacer. When aligning the rails I set the clamping pressure to be strong enough to hold them in place yet allow me to make small adjustments. I used my long bubble level to ensure the two rails were flat and coplanar (doesn't matter if they are actually level). I used my adjustable square to find the low point and then position the rails to remove the least amount possible from each corner to ensure I would make the lightest passes and keep the most thickness. It was a lot of adjust, check, adjust, check, ... but it turned out great. I was probably picker than I needed to be.

wp34

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Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2019, 11:00:15 am »
I'd like to build one of these someday and appreciate your detailed posts.

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2019, 11:05:57 am »
More progress yesterday. Dressed the legs and cut the tenon dovetails and shoulders. One leg is shorter because I attempted to hand cut the tenon... I don't have near the handsaw discipline required to cut hand cut tenons that large. Luckily I purposely made the legs ~12" larger than needed so I just chopped it off.

For the dovetails, I ran the legs through the table saw at 45deg with a stop block to ensure I cut to the right depth. I clamped a block to use a reference surface at the desired depth and used a flush cut saw against the block to establish the bottom. Then I used my miter saw cut some kerfs into the excess and paired it out with the chisel. Worked great.

Similar process for the shoulders. I had to make cuts from both sides due to depth restrictions of the table saw. I used the table saw to cut the kerfs this time. Also, the tenon face was a little larger than my chisels could reach so I used a hand plane to help cut out excess and flatten.

Next I need to cut out the centers to finish the sliding dovetail tenons. Then it's cutting the mortises.

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2019, 11:09:52 am »
More pictures.

yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2019, 09:39:27 am »
Finished the sliding dovetail tenons. I first used the table saw to establish the cheeks. Then I used the drill press to hog out material above the shoulder. Next I used a hand saw to cut out the middle while making sure to keep the blade on the inside to ensure I didn't cut into the cheek. Finally I used a chisel to pair it out.


yo1dog

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    • MikeArcade
Re: Building Workbench
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2019, 12:35:49 pm »
I've been working on the mortises. My idea was to position the tenon on the top and outline it with pieces of hardboard thus creating a perfect template of the tenon. I would then use a router with a trim bit inside the template for a perfectly sized mortise. Finally I would square the corners with a chisel. However, this did not work out as well as I would have hoped. I ended up with an oversized mortise and a fairly loose fit.

Looking at my pictures, there is a visible gap between the hardboard and the tenon. So it could be that I was not careful enough to ensure the hardboard was flush against the tenon. Or it moved while I secured it down. Or perhaps the hardboard was cut at an angle somehow. I will do some testing.

I haven't taken the mortise all the way through yet as I was just testing the fit. I was able to get ~3" deep using a combination of a 1" top bearing trim bit, a 2" straight bit, and a router template bushing. I started with my straight bit and a bushing making ~1/4" deep passes until I was just over 2" deep. Next removed the bushing and used the 1" trim bit to remove the top 1" of excess from the sides caused by the bushing. Then I switched back to the 2" straight bit and ran the shaft of the bit along the template like the bearing of a trim bit (1/2" shaft and 1/2" diameter bit) to remove the rest of the excess from the sides. Finally I continued to lower the bit and make ~1/4" passes until the router bottomed out.

My plan for the last ~1" is to route from the opposite side. I am tempted to use a bottom bearing trim bit but there is no guarantee the top and bottom surfaces of the benchtop are parallel planes. This would result in the mortise not being straight. It may be close enough though. Safer approach would be to remove most of the material but leave some excess around the edges that can be paired away with a chisel, but I worry about tearout.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2019, 01:38:30 pm by yo1dog »